General House Rules
Once your helper has settled into her room and unpacked her belongings, she is now ready for that one-on-one talk with you about house rules. Explain to her that your rules give her the best understanding of how your family operates. This enables both of you and other family members to work together to create an environment that is peaceful, loving and trusting. The same rules apply for all members of the family, young and old.
Your helper is an adult and her compliance helps to set the example for your children and that will earn the whole family’s respect in due course. Assure her that as she gains experience and adjusts favourably to the family, her efforts and loyalty will be noticed and acknowledged.
What has been stated below is a suggestion of these house rules which should be adapted for your own needs and desires. It is highly impractical to lay down too many detailed house rules.
1. Personal Hygiene and Appearance.
Good personal hygiene habits will keep her and the entire household free from germs and illnesses. Practise proper hand washing techniques. Talk about how good it is when others around you are clean, well groomed and healthy and how awful it is to be with someone who looks untidy and has body odour.
- Bathing – Bathe at least once a day (preferably after doing heavy chores) and if needs be, use deodorant.
- Washing hair. Hair should be kept short and washed every day. Otherwise, hair should be tied up neatly.
- Brushing teeth – Brush teeth at least twice a day. Once in the morning and once before going to bed.
- Washing hands – wash before eating, meal preparation, giving medicine and first aid, after handling pets and the garbage, blowing her nose and using the toilet. Also after taking care of the sick. When in doubt, wash your hands.
- Nails and hair length – kept short and clean.
- Clothes or uniforms and undergarments should be changed every day after bath, kept clean and neat.
- Monthly periods – regularly wash herself and change sanitary pads. These pads should be properly wrapped up and disposed in covered bins.
- Bath and other towels should be changed every week.
- Coughs and colds – use tissues and flush tissues after use or bin it regularly. Bins sanitized daily.
She will then be healthy and neat in appearance.
WebMd has made this comment
Wash your hands before meals and snacks.
It really works. “In the kitchen the No. 1 time to wash your hands and make sure your kids do, too, is before you eat anything,” Schachter says. “Use soap and water and a little elbow grease,” he says. “Anti-bacterial soap is a good idea for extra protection. People who wash hands seven times a day have about 40% fewer colds than the average person,” he says.
2. Working hours and days off. Most helpers start their day at 5.30 to 6 am and end their day at 9 to 10 pm. In between these hours, she has a short morning and afternoon break. Explain that you will try to keep those hours but as and when the need arises, you would like her to be flexible.
3. No smoking. Smoking is a habit that is detrimental to her own health as well.
4. Be polite and punctual. Organized and tidy.
5. No foul language. At all times.
6. Honesty under all circumstances (no white lies).
When she gives an account of any situation, it should be factual and sequential. She should not take sides and no exaggeration will be appreciated.
7. Her bedroom should be swept daily, always kept clean and tidy.
Bed sheets should be changed on 1st and 15th day of the month (some employers prefer weekly change).
8. Don’t share food, utensils and crockery with anyone in the family or even friends outside on days off.
This good habit protects her from spreading germs and contracting illness and diseases. Remind children that they should also follow this rule.
9. Treatment of children and members of the family.
- Always initiate the greeting.
- When dealing with children or the elders under her care, give firm but polite and clear instructions.
- There should be no raised voices, threats, pinching, slapping, hitting or other types of physical abuse. Neither should there be any verbal abuse. If handling children or elders under her care becomes a problem, give you an accurate account of incidents giving only full facts. You will then decide and punish if necessary. You should decide if she allowed to call you if you are out or at work.
- Help to reinforce employer’s house rules whenever the opportunity arises.
- In all situations, her action and words are to help calm any matter instead of making it worse.
- Children should stay home when they are unwell (e.g., running a fever, bad cold or cough). Their home activities should be restful. Subject to their age group, she will be given guidelines on how many hours can be spent watching TV and on the mobile phone; and ideas for alternative activities like playing board games, listening to audio stories and appropriate music, crafts and cooking.
10. In the event of emergencies. Instead of panicking, you need her to be calm, alert and observant. She has to make a mental careful note of the whole situation. She will be your eyes in such emergencies. Hence, she should concentrate on facts and calm the emotions. Is it a minor or major emergency? Let her know the chain of persons whom she should contact if you are not available for whatever reasons.
It is appropriate to place a contact list in a central location in your home. I have created a sample of this list which has been named “Fridge List – Important Phone Contacts”. It can be viewed here.
A more detailed discussion will be posted subsequently under separate topics of “Child Care“ and “Elder Care”.
11. Treatment of guests.
Be polite and welcoming. Always initiate the greeting with a smile and offer them a choice of drinks.
12. Set rules for socialization.
Is she allowed to socialize during working hours or only on weekends? Is she allowed to have a mobile phone and what hours will she be allowed to chat with her family and friends? Quite a number of helpers now use their Smart phones or other devices to make Wi-Fi calls home to keep in touch with family members back home.
You are the best judge of whether you would like to share your home’s internet ID address and password with her. Personally, I am not in favour of this practice. It allows for possible breach of security.
13. When someone is or appears ill.
Avoid close contact and do not shake their hands, hug or kiss them. Wash hands frequently and keep area around them clean.
14. Always be observant, exercise discretion and common sense. It is impossible to list out rules and to anticipate situations that crop up.
15. Her loyalty to all members of the family should be exhibited and maintained at all times.
This will be highly respected and greatly appreciated. Hence, she should refrain from sharing sensitive matters and information about family members with outsiders and even her friends.